Every Oscar Best Picture-Winning Movie Based on a Book or a Play

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Every Oscar Best Picture-Winning Movie Based on a Book or a Play

From Ben-Hur to The Silence of the Lambs, movies rooted in literature have captivated audiences for decades. The Academy must be enthralled by these films as well, because two-thirds of Oscar Best Picture winners have been adapted from literary sources.

Moonlight’s dramatic win made it the 60th literary movie to earn the award, so we decided to list every winning title inspired by a book, short story, play or epic poem (here’s looking at you, Braveheart). Enjoy diving back in time through 80+ years of Oscar history.

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1moonlight poster.png Moonlight

Based on: “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” (play) by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Directed by: Barry Jenkins

Starring: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali

Year Awarded Best Picture: 2017 (89th Academy Awards Ceremony)

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12 years poster.jpg 12 Years a Slave

Based on: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o

Year Awarded Best Picture: 2014 (86th Ceremony)

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1argo poster.jpg Argo

Based on: The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez and “The Great Escape” (Wired article) by Joshuah Bearman

Directed by:   Ben Affleck  

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin

Year Awarded Best Picture: 2013 (85th Ceremony)

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1slumdog poster.jpg Slumdog Millionaire

Based on: Q & A by Vikas Swarup

Directed by:   Danny Boyle  

Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan

Year Awarded Best Picture: 2009 (81st Ceremony)

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1no country poster.jpg No Country for Old Men

Based on: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Directed by: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Starring:   Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin

Year Awarded Best Picture: 2008 (80th Ceremony)

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1million poster.jpg Million Dollar Baby

Based on: Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole

Directed by:   Clint Eastwood  

Starring: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman

Year Awarded Best Picture: 2005 (77th Ceremony)

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1lord poster.jpg The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Based on: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien 

Directed by:   Peter Jackson  

Starring:   Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen

Year Awarded Best Picture: 2004 (76th Ceremony)

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1chicago poster.jpg Chicago

Based on: Chicago (musical) by Fred Ebb, Bob Foss and John Kander, which was based on Chicago (play) by Maurine Dallas Watkins

Directed by: Rob Marshall

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere

Year Awarded Best Picture: 2003 (75th Ceremony)

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1beautiful mind poster.jpg A Beautiful Mind

Based on: A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar

Directed by:   Ron Howard  

Starring:   Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly

Year Awarded Best Picture: 2002 (74th Ceremony)

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1english poster.jpg The English Patient

Based on: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Directed by: Anthony Minghella

Starring:   Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1997 (69th Ceremony)

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1braveheart poster.jpg Braveheart

Based on: The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace (epic poem) by Blind Harry

Directed by:   Mel Gibson  

Starring:   Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1996 (68th Ceremony)

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1forrest poster.jpg Forrest Gump

Based on: Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1995 (67th Ceremony)

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1schindler poster.jpg Schindler’s List

Based on: Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally

Directed by:   Steven Spielberg  

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes 

Year Awarded Best Picture:1994 (66th Ceremony)

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1silence poster.jpg The Silence of the Lambs

Based on: The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1992 (64th Ceremony)

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1dances poster.jpg Dances with Wolves

Based on: Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake

Directed by:   Kevin Costner  

Starring: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1991 (63rd Ceremony)

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1daisy poster.png Driving Miss Daisy

Based on: Driving Miss Daisy (play) by Alfred Uhry

Directed by: Bruce Beresford

Starring:   Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1990 (62nd Ceremony)

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1last emperor poster.jpg The Last Emperor

Based on: From Emperor to Citizen: The Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi by Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi

Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci

Starring: John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O’Toole

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1988 (60th Ceremony)

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1out africa poster.jpg Out of Africa

Based on: Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen; Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Story Teller by Judith Thurman; Silence Will Speak: A Study of the Life of Denys Finch Hatton and His Relationship with Karen Blixen by Errol Trzebinski

Directed by: Sydney Pollack

Starring: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1986 (58th Ceremony)

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1amadeus poster.jpg Amadeus

Based on: Amadeus (play) by Peter Shaffer

Directed by: Miloš Forman

Starring: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1985 (57th Ceremony)

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1terms poster.jpg Terms of Endearment

Based on: Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurty

Directed by: James L. Brooks

Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson 

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1984 (56th Ceremony)

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1ordinary poster.png Ordinary People

Based on: Ordinary People by Judith Guest

Directed by:   Robert Redford  

Starring:   Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1981 (53rd Ceremony)

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1kramer.png Kramer vs. Kramer

Based on: Kramer vs. Kramer by Avery Corman

Directed by: Robert Benton

Starring:   Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1980 (52nd Ceremony)

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1one flew poster.jpg One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Based on: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Directed by: Miloš Forman

Starring:   Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1976 (48th Ceremony)

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1godfather 2 poster.jpg The Godfather Part II

Based on: The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro 

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1975 (47th Ceremony)

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1godfather poster.jpg The Godfather

Based on: The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1973 (45th Ceremony)

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1french.png The French Connection

Based on: The French Connection by Robin Moore

Directed by: William Friedkin

Starring: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1972 (44th Ceremony)

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1patton poster.jpg Patton

Based on: Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago; A Soldier’s Story by Omar N. Bradley

Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner

Starring: George C. Scott, Karl Malden

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1971 (43rd Ceremony)

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1midnight.png Midnight Cowboy

Based on: Midnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy

Directed by: John Schlesinger

Starring:   Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1970 (42nd Ceremony)

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1oliver.png Oliver!

Based on: Oliver! (musical) by Lionel Bart, which was based on Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Directed by: Carol Reed

Starring: Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Harry Secombe

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1969 (41st Ceremony)

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1heat night.jpg In the Heat of the Night

Based on: In the Heat of the Night by John Ball

Directed by: Norman Jewison

Starring: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1968 (40th Ceremony)

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1man seasons.png A Man for All Seasons

Based on: A Man for All Seasons (play) by Robert Bolt

Directed by: Fred Zinnemann

Starring: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1967 (39th Ceremony)

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1sound music.jpg The Sound of Music

Based on: The Sound of Music (musical) by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, which was based on The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp

Directed by: Robert Wise

Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1966 (38th Ceremony)

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1my fair lady.jpg My Fair Lady

Based on: My Fair Lady (musical) by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, which was based on Pygmalion (play) by George Bernard Shaw

Directed by: George Cukor

Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1965 (37th Ceremony)

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1tom jones.jpg Tom Jones

Based on: The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding

Directed by: Tony Richardson

Starring: Albert Finney, Susannah York, Hugh Griffith

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1964 (36th Ceremony)

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1lawrence.jpg Lawrence of Arabia

Based on: Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence

Directed by: David Lean

Starring: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn

Year Awarded Best Picture: 1963 (35th Ceremony)

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1west side.png West Side Story

Based on: West Side Story (musical) by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents, which was based on Romeo and Juliet (play) by William Shakespeare 

Directed by: Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins

Starring: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno
Year Awarded Best Motion Picture*: 1962 (34th Ceremony)

*Award title change.

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1ben hur.png Ben-Hur

Based on: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Directed by: William Wyler

Starring: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1960 (32nd Ceremony)

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1gigi.jpg Gigi

Based on: Gigi (novella) by Colette

Directed by: Vincente Minnelli

Starring: Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan, Maurice Chevalier

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1959 (31st Ceremony)

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1bridge kwai.png The Bridge on the River Kwai

Based on: The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle

Directed by: David Lean

Starring: William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness 

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1958 (30th Ceremony)

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1around world.png Around the World in 80 Days

Based on: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Directed by: Michael Anderson

Starring: David Niven, Cantinflas, Shirley MacLaine

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1957 (29th Ceremony)

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1from here.jpg From Here to Eternity

Based on: From Here to Eternity by James Jones

Directed by: Fred Zinnemann

Starring: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1954 (26th Ceremony)

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1all about eve.png All About Eve

Based on: “The Wisdom of Eve” (short story) by Mary Orr

Directed by: Joseph L Mankiewicz

Starring: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1951 (23rd Ceremony)

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1all kings.png All the King’s Men

Based on: All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

Directed by: Robert Rossen

Starring: Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Mercedes McCambridge

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1950 (22nd Ceremony)

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1hamlet movie poster.png Hamlet

Based on: Hamlet (play) by William Shakespeare 

Directed by: Laurence Olivier

Starring: Laurence Olivier

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1949 (21st Ceremony)

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1gentleman.png Gentleman’s Agreement

Based on: Gentleman’s Agreement by Laura Z. Hobson

Directed by: Elia Kazan

Starring: Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1948 (20th Ceremony)

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1best years.png The Best Years of Our Lives

Based on: Glory for Me (novella) by MacKinlay Kantor

Directed by: William Wyler

Starring: Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1947 (19th Ceremony)

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1lost weekend.png The Lost Weekend

Based on: The Lost Weekend by Charles R. Jackson

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Starring: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman

Year Awarded Best Motion Picture: 1946 (18th Ceremony)

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1casablanca.png Casablanca

Based on: Everybody Comes to Rick’s (unproduced play) by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid

Year Awarded Outstanding Motion Picture*: 1944 (16th Ceremony)

*Award title change.

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1mrs miniver.jpg Mrs. Miniver

Based on: Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther

Directed by: William Wyler

Starring: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon

Year Awarded Outstanding Motion Picture: 1943 (15th Ceremony)

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1how green.jpg How Green Was My Valley

Based on: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Directed by: John Ford

Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara, Anna Lee

Year Awarded Outstanding Motion Picture: 1942 (14th Ceremony)

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1rebecca.png Rebecca

Based on: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Directed by:   Alfred Hitchcock  

Starring: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine

Year Awarded Outstanding Production*: 1941 (13th Ceremony)

*Award title change.

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1gone wind.png Gone with the Wind

Based on: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Directed by: Victor Fleming

Starring:Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable

Year Awarded Outstanding Production: 1940 (12th Ceremony)

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1you cant.jpg You Can’t Take It with You

Based on: You Can’t Take It with You (play) by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart

Directed by: Frank Capra

Starring: Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, Edward Arnold

Year Awarded Outstanding Production: 1939 (11th Ceremony)

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1life zola.jpg The Life of Emile Zola

Based on: Zola and His Time by Matthew Josephson

Directed by: William Dieterle

Starring: Paul Muni, Gloria Holden, Gale Sondergaard

Year Awarded Outstanding Production: 1938 (10th Ceremony)

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1mutiny.jpg Mutiny on the Bounty

Based on: Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall

Directed by: Frank Lloyd

Starring: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone

Year Awarded Outstanding Production: 1936 (8th Ceremony)

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1it happened.jpg It Happened One Night

Based on: “Night Bus” (short story) by Samuel Hopkins Adams

Directed by: Frank Capra

Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert

Year Awarded Be Outstanding Production: 1935 (7th Ceremony)

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1cavalcade.jpg Cavalcade

Based on: Cavalcade (play) by Noël Coward

Directed by: Frank Lloyd

Starring: Diana Wynyard, Clive Brook, Una O’Connor

Year Awarded Outstanding Production: 1934 (6th Ceremony)

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1grand hotel.jpg Grand Hotel

Based on: Grand Hotel (play) by William A. Drake, which was based on Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum

Directed by: Edmund Goulding

Starring: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford

Year Awarded Outstanding Production: 1932 (5th Ceremony)

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1cimarron.png Cimarron

Based on: Cimarron by Edna Ferber

Directed by: Wesley Ruggles

Starring: Richard Dix, Irene Dunne

Year Awarded Outstanding Production: 1931 (4th Ceremony)

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1all quiet.png All Quiet on the Western Front

Based on: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Directed by: Lewis Milestone

Starring: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim

Year Awarded Outstanding Production: 1930 (3rd Ceremony)

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